Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland

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Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland
Kościół Ewangelicko-Augsburski w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.png
Classification Protestant
Orientation Lutheranism
Polity Episcopal
Bishop of the Church Jerzy Samiec
Associations Conference of European Churches,
Lutheran World Federation,
Polish Ecumenical Council,
World Council of Churches
Region Poland
Origin 16th century
Separated from Roman Catholic Church
Members 61,690[1]
Official website Official website
Holy Trinity Church, Warsaw, of Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Poland.

The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (Polish: Kościół Ewangelicko-Augsburski w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) is a Lutheran denomination and the largest Protestant body in Poland with about 62,000 members and 133 parishes.[1]

History[edit]

The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession is rooted in the Reformation, the first Lutheran sermons were held in 1518, and in 1523 the first Lutheran dean, Johann Heß, was called to the city of Breslau, whence Lutheranism was spread into the Polish lands.

In interwar Poland the Evangelical-Augsburg church was the largest Protestant denomination, with about half a million followers, but unlike in post-WWII Poland it was not the only Lutheran church in the country,[2] it competed for the hearts of Lutherans living in the territory of the revived Polish state with the Evangelical Union Church in Greater Poland, the Augsburg and Helvetic Evangelical Church in the areas of the Austrian partition, and other churches.[3] Its adherents dominated in central Poland, which was part of Russia prior to 1918, while the other churches were based in the south and west of the newly established country;[4] in 1918 the Lutheran parishes of Cieszyn Silesia were incorporated into the structures of the Evangelical-Augsburg church, raising the overall number of its followers by about 100,000, although about half of these parishes left the church in 1920 when a significant section of the area became part of Czechoslovakia following the Polish-Czechoslovak War. They were later reincorporated in 1938 when Poland gained control over Zaolzie after a military intervention.[5]

The greatest challenge for the church before World War II was the problem of nationalism, as about three quarters of all adherents in 1939 were German, and the remaining quarter Polish;[3][6] in the diocese of Łódź, largest in terms of the Lutheran population, more than 98% Lutherans were German, while in Silesia, comparable in terms of the number of adherents, more than 80% were Polish.[7] German believers accused bishop Juliusz Bursche of Polonizing the church,[3] which faced the danger of a split along national lines.[8]

An important moment for the Evangelical-Augsburg church was the issuing of a presidential decree in 1936 which established the nature of the relationship between the church and the state and the former’s internal structure,[8] the decree affirmed the territorial division of the church into ten dioceses (Warsaw, Płock, Kalisz, Piotrków, Lublin, Łódź, Volhynia, Vilnius, Silesia and Greater Poland) with a total of 117 parishes.[9]

The church in Poland suffered during and after World War II, the ranks of pastors, teachers and other church leadership were diminished by persecution, imprisonment, and death.[8][10] During the early postwar years, a number of church properties were taken over for other purposes, and the connections of Protestant Lutheranism to the German cultural sphere made authorities and Polish locals inimical towards the Lutherans left. Gradually, the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Poland has been reshaped into an active body, on 12 October 2008, Polish president Lech Kaczyński—himself of the Catholic faith—visited the Lutheran Protestant Jesus Church in Cieszyn, becoming the first Polish president who ever visited a Protestant place of worship.[11][12]

Contemporary[edit]

The church's six dioceses form a wide swath from north to south down the middle of Poland—from Warmia-Masuria and Gdańsk in the north, near the Baltic, to the region west and southwest of Kraków in the south, toward the Czech Republic border. Direct descendants of Reformation forebears live in the south, around Upper Silesia, that is also where most Polish Lutherans can be found, with c. 47,000 of the church's followers (about three quarters of all adherents) living in Silesian Voivodeship.[13] The 2011 census data points to a very uneven distribution of the Polish Lutheran population across the country, particularly scarce in the eastern provinces.[14]

The church has 133 parishes, 186 churches and 151 chapels, and is served by 153 pastors and other church workers.[15] Many pastors serve multiple preaching points and are challenged by diverse demands as well as the need for innovation in a rapidly changing society, the congregations are self-governing, and each has its own parish council.

As of 2015, there were 61,690 adherent faithful in the church.[1] Though numbers of church members are currently lower than they were in the past (87,300 baptized members in 2000, 77,500 in 2005),[16] the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession still remains the largest Protestant body in Poland.

As a Lutheran church in a country that is nearly 90 percent Roman Catholic, the church faces challenges in upholding a Protestant education at various levels, whether in Sunday schools, catechetical instruction, or in connection with the public schools, where Catholic religious education is part of the curriculum. The main priorities of the church are in diaconic work among single, old, and disabled persons; women's and youth work; and in evangelism.

Followers of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland according to the 2011 census
Voivodeship Number of adherents %
POLAND 70766 100
Lower Silesian 2140 3.0
Kuyavian-Pomeranian 688 1.0
Lublin 339 0.5
Lubusz 630 0.9
Łódź 1462 2.1
Lesser Poland 994 1.4
Masovian 3593 5.1
Opole 1601 2.3
Subcarpathian 100 0.1
Podlaskie 187 0.3
Pomeranian 921 1.3
Silesian 51009 72.1
Holy Cross 142 0.2
Warmian-Masurian 4466 6.3
Greater Poland 1300 1.8
West Pomeranian 1194 1.7

Leadership[edit]

The senior ordained member of the denomination is called the Bishop of the Church, the office is filled by election, and the Bishop of the Church serves for ten years. He is based at the Church headquarters in Warsaw, the Church's official website describes the role of the Bishop of the Church as: "His service is to minister the Word of God and the Sacraments. He also guards the whole Church (episcope), so that God’s Word is proclaimed faithfully and clearly, the Bishop of the Church is the “Pastor of the pastors” (Pastor pastorum)."[17] The office is currently held by Bishop Jerzy Samiec.

Under the Bishop of the Church there are four authoritative bodies, the House of Bishops consists of the Bishop of the Church (Primate) and the six diocesan bishops. The Church Synod is the main decision-making body, and consists of all ordained bishops, 15 representative ordained pastors, and 30 members of laity from across the diocesan synods, the Synod Council is a small standing committee, competent to conduct certain synodical functions between meetings of the full Church Synod. The Consistory of the Church is a senior steering group which has authority to make wide-ranging decisions in terms of the day to day administration of the church, it is chaired by the Bishop of the Church, together with a Vice-President, and six other members (three ordained, three lay).

Jerzy Samiec
In office Bishop
1 1904–1942 ks. dr Juliusz Bursche
- 1945–1951 ks. prof. Jan Szeruda
2 1951–1959 ks. dr Karol Kotula
3 1959–1975 ks. prof. Andrzej Wantuła
4 1975–1991 ks. dr Janusz Narzyński
5 1991–2001 ks. dr Jan Szarek
6 2001–2010 ks. Janusz Jagucki
7 2010– ks. Jerzy Samiec

List of Bishops[edit]

Churches[edit]

Notable Polish Lutherans[edit]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Niektóre wyznania religijne w Polsce w 2016 r. (Selected religious denominations in Poland in 2016)". Mały Rocznik Statystyczny Polski 2017 (Concise Statistical Yearbook of Poland 2017) (PDF) (in Polish and English). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. 2017. p. 115. ISSN 1640-3630. 
  2. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 54.
  3. ^ a b c Szczucki, p. 1798.
  4. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 55.
  5. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 54.
  6. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 65.
  7. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 65.
  8. ^ a b c Szczucki, p. 1799.
  9. ^ Dekret Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej z dnia 25 listopada 1936 r. o stosunku Państwa do Kościoła Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, Act No. 88/613 of 25 November 1936 (in Polish)
  10. ^ Bartel, pp. 35-36.
  11. ^ (in Polish) Lech Kaczyński w Wiśle i Cieszynie
  12. ^ (in Polish) Prezydent w kościele Jezusowym
  13. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 25.
  14. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 69.
  15. ^ Statistics: Lutherans in Poland (official website of The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg confession in Poland)
  16. ^ Ciecieląg, Jóźwiak and Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, p. 67.
  17. ^ English language version of official website.
  18. ^ a b (in Polish) Większość ewangelików w Polsce jest dumna z tego, że są ewangelikami
  19. ^ (in Polish) MAŁYSZ: Bogu dziękuję!

References[edit]

  • Bartel, Oskar (1963). Protestantyzm w Polsce (in Polish). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Zwiastun. 
  • Ciecieląg, Paweł; Jóźwiak, Ewa; Godfrejów-Tarnogórska, Agnieszka, eds. (2017). 500 lat Reformacji w Polsce (PDF) (in Polish). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. ISBN 978-83-7027-667-6. 
  • Szczucki, Lech (2004). "Poland". In Hillerbrand, Hans J. The Encyclopedia of Protestantism. 3. New York: Routledge. pp. 1792–1802. ISBN 0-203-57509-1. 

External links[edit]